Ascot Park Criteriums
Ascot Park Criteriums
The Ascot Park Criteriums made a welcome return to the Cycling Southland calendar in 2022 as part of a wicked weekend of racing, including the ILT New Year Track Carnival and the Stonewood Homes Gore to Invercargill Classic.
The criterium took place on Sunday 30 January at the Ascot Park Hotel, wrapping up the weekend's racing, with racing for U13, U15, U17, and Open grades. Weather conditions were close on perfect, overcast but calm, and the road surface was dry, making for fast racing all round.
The day started with the U13 criterium, over 10 minutes plus two laps. After a ding-dong battle through the race, the win was shared between Benjie Shayler and Jamie Russell.
This was followed by the U15 criterium, with the girls setting off just behind the boys, and promptly catching them. The field quickly spread out as the faster riders pushed the pace, and at the finish the win in the boys division went to Connor Toomey, with Ben Wyatt in second, and Oliver Keast in third. Olivia Ewing took out the girls division, with Poppy McIvor in second, and Sophie Best in third.
The U17 division produced another fast race, with attacks starting right from the gun. After many riders attempted to break clear of the field, it was team mates Magnus Jamieson and Hugo Sinclair who made the winning move and rode clear of the field, with Jamieson taking the sprint over Sinclair, while Liam Ramsey beat the rest of the chase group to the line for third. In the girls race, Mikaela Macdonald claimed the title, ahead of Caitlin Kelly and Erin Green.
In the Open C grade race, contested over 20 minutes plus three laps, the field split apart under relentless pressure, with visiting riders Jeff Best and Nathan Fenwick breaking clear of the field and working together to build their lead. In the dash for the line, it was Best who got the better of Fenwick, with Andrew Lienert coming home in third place. Nichole Saunders out sprinter Pearl Harris-Blain for the line to be first woman home.
The Open B grade race, over 30 minutes plus three laps, was a very aggressive affair, with the attacks coming thick and fast, but the field reforming time and time again. In the end it was Brook Armishaw who managed to take the sprint by the narrowest of margins over Fergus Sail, with Neil Familton in third. Rhylee Akeroyd was the first woman home, ahead of Florence McNabb and Murieann Green.
The Open A grade race promised to be a very exciting affair, featuring the likes of three time SBS Bank Tour of Southland Champion Michael Vink and his Bolton Equities Black Spoke team mate Mitchell Fitzsimons, and Euro pro Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ pro continental team), alongside top local riders like Josh Burnett, Hunter Gough, Marshall Erwood, and visiting Otago riders James Gardner (winner of the Stonewood Homes Gore to Invercargill Classic the previous day) and Patrick Jones.
The race certainly lived up to the hype, as riders ripped through the course, with Vink and Thompson featuring at or near the front often. Eventually it was Vink who managed to open a gap on the field, with Gough the only rider to go with him. The two worked together to build a gap over the field, with Thompson one of the main drivers behind trying to keep the gap at a manageable level. With some two laps left to go, Thompson launched a massive attack to try and drag back the substantial gap, as Vink and Gough continued to drive for the finish. Thompson just ran out of road, falling a couple of seconds shy of getting back on level terms with the leaders, as Gough out-kicked Vink for the line to take the win, with Thompson coming home in third.
A big thank you to the Ascot Park Hotel for allowing us to use their beautiful grounds for the event, and thank to all the helpers out on the course.
Photos can be viewed here.
The route map can be found here.